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Escape from Mr. Lemoncello's Library    by Chris Grabenstein Amazon.com order for
Escape from Mr. Lemoncello's Library
by Chris Grabenstein
Order:  USA  Can
Random House, 2013 (2013)
Hardcover, e-Book
* * *   Reviewed by Ricki Marking-Camuto

Chris Grabenstein really knows how to capture the imagination of middle readers, as expertly demonstrated in his newest novel, Escape from Mr. Lemoncello's Library. Grabenstein has captured the feel of two of my favorite classic middle reader books From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler by E. L. Koningsburg and The Westing Game by Ellen Raskin (both of which are mentioned numerous time throughout the book) which makes Escape from Mr. Lemoncello's Library one for the keeper shelf.

Twelve-year-old Kyle Keely's most favorite thing in the world is to play games, especially those developed by the wacky Mr. Lemoncello. Writing essays for school is not one of his favorite things, so he completely blows off writing his essay about why he wants to be one of the twelve twelve-year-olds invited to the grand opening of the new library until it is almost too late. When he finds out Mr. Lemoncello himself will be judging the entries and hosting the overnight party, Kyle knows the game is not over until it is over and pulls out all the stops.

His pluck catches the attention of Mr. Lemoncello, and he gets to be one of the lucky twelve. The sleepover is full of fun and games, but all of that changes the next morning when the twelve kids are tasked with the seemingly impossible: find the secret exit from the library. The clock is ticking and the race is on and the players must use the library in order to find a way to escape from it.

Kyle is such an average kid that he is immediately likeable, and the reader starts to root for him from the very first page. The rest of the characters that Grabenstein created also leap from the page. But these great characterization skills are not what makes Escape from Mr. Lemoncello's Library an excellent read that stems from the author's talent at puzzle-making. The characters are presented with multiple clues that all eventually lead to the same solution, and this is a very impressive feat. The readers will have a blast trying to solve the puzzle before Kyle or any of his classmates do, making the book a real page-turner.

Escape from Mr. Lemoncello's Library is the type of book that will capture the imaginations of middle readers for decades to come. Chris Grabenstein has written a modern classic that is just begging to be read by all.

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